Hydration After Massage: Why is it Necessary?

blue_wave_of_waterI’ve been curious about this whole water debate, and why it’s recommended to drink lots of water after receiving a massage.   It seems logical to hydrate post-massage, but haven’t you wondered why?  If you’ve ever received a massage treatment from me, I typically recommend keeping up with your daily hydration for several days following your massage.  However, I remain curious: is there really any scientific evidence suggesting drinking water after a massage is necessary?

I did some research about this, and I found numerous articles claiming hydration to be imperative after receiving a massage to flush toxins from the blood stream. I’ve also heard people claim that massage therapy helps in the removal of these said “toxins” from the body.  What are these toxins, and how might massage therapy “get rid of them”?

Generally we think of Lactic Acid when we say, “toxins” and equate “toxins” with the bad stuff massage gets rid of (more about that here). What’s more accurate is that our cellular processes create metabolic wastes as a by-product of cellular activity.  These wastes are not harmful or toxic to our bodies at all because they are naturally occurring.  Our kidneys are built to sift through these wastes and expel what’s no longer needed from the body.  The beauty of massage therapy is that it speeds up this process.  The movement, pressure, and therapeutic techniques of massage promote the removal of these (naturally occurring) wastes, which requires the use of water.  As these processes are being sped up via massage, the effect on the body is that of slight dehydration.  Thus, the recommendation for re-hydration after a massage.

All in all, it’s super helpful to drink water after a massage- not only to quench your thirst, but to replenish the water utilized to expel metabolic wastes.  The key for all of us is to drink enough water everyday, not just after you receive a massage. Stay hydrated, and drink as much water as you need post-massage – use your thirst cues to guide you.

Tara Shultis, MA, LMT, RYT

More in-depth articles on this topic can be found here:

Performance Bodywork 

The Fear of Chronic Dehydration